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Data for Good

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Centering Equity

THE CLEAN ENERGY TRANSITION

Massive change is underway in the energy landscape as countries, cities, and communities grapple with climate change. Cities and rural areas are highly vulnerable to heat, storms, flooding, and pollution. Unfortunately, the communities who bear the brunt of these harsh impacts are too often non-white and lower-income. They face a barrage of unfair burdens in many areas, including housing, healthcare, and energy.

WHAT IS ENERGY BURDEN?

Energy burden is a measure of affordability. It’s the percentage of a household’s income spent on electricity and gas bills; in the United States, an energy burden of three or four percent is typical. An energy burden greater than six percent of income is considered high, while those greater than 10 percent are severe.

 

Many circumstances can contribute to these unaffordable bills, including unhealthy housing conditions, income inequality, and lack of access to opportunities and the levers of power and information that drive policy change.

An infographic with text reading: "Did you know? There is a 60% higher energy burden for the average black family vs. white; despite using less energy."

*The data in this graphic are specific to Atlanta, GA

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BURDENS BUNDLE TOGETHER

Due to historic and unjust policies, burdens tend to cluster together making daily life very challenging. People who experience higher energy burdens also frequently have higher rates of heat stress, asthma, chronic heart disease, and mental health challenges. 

A graphic with a quote from Greenlink Analytics CEO, Matt Cox, PhD: "We could make things better, faster in these communities if we had the right people at the table with the right kinds of resources."
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CHANGING THE COURSE

It doesn’t have to be this way. We can intentionally repair the legacy issues that lead to this unfair playing field. The key is to start these conversations within the communities facing the greatest impacts.

The way to ensure that communities equitably benefit from clean energy plans is by

MEANINGFULLY ENGAGING THE PEOPLE

who historically and currently shoulder the greatest burdens to help inform and guide policies.

This helps ensure that change is fair and just.

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